Governor McMaster signs SC Religious Freedom Act
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Governor Henry McMaster held a ceremonial bill signing for the South Carolina Religious Freedom Act on Monday. The bill aims to protect places of worship from government overreach and forced closure during states of emergency.
Under the new law, any places of worship denied their right to worship during declared emergencies can seek declaratory relief and compensatory damages for monetary or non-monetary losses.
The governor spoke about the importance of this new legislation.
“Throughout the pandemic liberal governors pilled on mandates and restrictions that infringed on the rights of their constituents – the most egregious of those mandates were the closure of churches, synagogues, and other places of worship,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “The fact that any elected official believed it was within their authority to tell somebody that they couldn’t go to church – the place that provides comfort in times of need and where many feel closest to God and their communities – is truly alarming. This legislation further ensures that South Carolinians’ constitutionally protected right to worship will not be infringed.”
The new law also says religious services are considered essential during a state of emergency and should remain open.
“Religious liberty is one of the founding principles of our state and nation, this bill recognizes that important principle,” said S.C. State Representative John McCravy. “This bill ensures that our churches can stay open during the most difficult times when we need church the most.”
The bill passed the Senate by a 39-2 vote and the House at 102-9.